We continue not to deny her being a mother, and give her many chances to do our bidding selflessly. She watches our children whenever possible. She rearranges her schedule to be our companion/date when husband's are unavailable. She cooks and cleans up when we frequent her table for dinner.
My mother always listened to me with great interest. She never made me feel like I was talking too much or about silly things that didn't matter (this meant a lot to a long-winded story-telling little girl). She made me feel like I mattered, not just as her own child, but as a person in this world. I remember knowing even as a young girl that my mom trusted me. She was a guide, not my decision-maker.
When I was 9 years old, I decided I wanted to be in a pageant. Looking back on this pageant is what really shows me how unique my mom was in her parenting style. All the little girls were like trained ponies, blowing kisses to the audience robotically, spitting out rehearsed answers to interview questions involving "world peace" or " becoming a doctor", etc. I, however, got to be a 9 year old. I walked like a 9 year old. I smiled like a 9 year old. I dressed like a 9 year old, and most importantly I talked like a 9 year old. Among all the future doctors and lawyers, I was the only one that admitted that I would like to be an auto mechanic or (in a related field) a hairstylist. I guess this was refreshing to the judges because I won that pageant. I know being Miss Pre-Teen Oklahoma is not a big deal any more when you are 26, but the fact that my mom trusted me enough to follow my 9 year old instincts, and then I won . . . that event has done wonders for my self-confidence.
My mom is my biggest fan. I think more than anyone in this world, she enjoys my voice and my music. She is always trying to get me to do more with it. In a way, she has some ownership in my music. Hereditarily, my dad gave me some talent . . . my mom did too, but she put in the long hours. One of the only places in my childhood where I saw my mom demand something of us was in our musical ventures. She MADE all of us sit down at the piano and learn three-part harmony even as little bitty girls and sing in front of the church in our matching dresses my grandmother made us. (This also leads to the other demand - sponge-rolling our hair the night before a performance!!) I am SOOO thankful that she did this for us (not the sponge-rolling).
The best testament to my mother is the mothers she has raised in me and my sisters. We will forever try to be the kind of mother to our children that she was to us - giving our children freedom to grow and trust themselves, giving our children the tools they will need or want (by force if necessary), listening to them no matter what. I see my older sisters already doing these things so naturally with their children already, and it makes me love my mother even more.
Momma, I am so proud to see you finally carving out some time and space just for you recently. More than the little and big favors we may need from you, we need you to take care of YOU. We are going to need you around for a long time. I love you so much. You are the easiest person to be around, and I will forever sing your praises to my children, among others.